“I don’t know whether the Earth is spinning or not.”
Daria Maminova, Gustav Mahler
The conductor Fedor Lednev continues his revision of the legacy of Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg’s Society for Private Musical Performances with a performance of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony.
Written in 1900, the symphony’s four-part score would go down in history as perhaps the earliest instance of musical neoclassicism: approaching the boundary of the modern and the contemporary, Mahler resurrects the world of Viennese Classicism and early Romanticism. In the culmination of the score’s first part, the tragic fanfare with which Mahler would open his Fifth Symphony (1901–1902) sounds out, but falters midway—the twentieth century exists in the Fourth only as a premonition, as an anxious expectation of tomorrow. The chamber version of the Fourth, created in 1920 for the concerts of the Society for Private Musical Performances, fixes the consequences of the First World War, which had irrevocably destroyed the reality for which Mahler had pined in the original score. Very soon, only fragments of the strictness and integrity imprinted in the original symphony remain.
The Fourth Symphony grew out of the song “Heavenly Life, ” first published in the folkloric collection The Enchanted Horn of the Boy (1806—1808)—both works are founded on a close interplay of delicacy and irony. Mahler had composed an eponymous song based on this text in 1892, and would go on to include it in the finale of his Fourth Symphony. The song’s story is told from the perspective of a child who sees the fulfilment of his earthly reverie in the heavens —Mahler himself described the Fourth as containing “an other serenity, a more elevated, more miraculous world than ours, in which there is something startling and frightening for us. In the last parts the child, who belongs to this higher world despite his naivety, explains how everything was thought up.”
“The symphony must carry within itself something cosmic, it must be inexhaustible, like the universe and life, ” says Mahler of the Fourth—and in this delight at the building of new artistic worlds that would be characteristic of the twentieth century, Mahler shows himself unexpectedly close to Velimir Khlebnikov. The otherworldly, fragile, politically-charged space of Daria Maminova’s “I don’t know whether the Earth is spinning or not” figuratively resonates with the Fourth—this first concert in the Refitting Old Ships programme begins and ends with the sounding out of a human voice.
Daria Maminova (b. 1988, Leningrad) is a composer and singer. She graduated from the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in Saint Petersburg as a pianist (under Tatiana Zagorovskaya). From 2012 to 2020, she studied composition at the Detmoldskoy Higher School of Music and Dance (class of Fabrena Levi) and at the Cologne Higher School of Music and Dance (class of Johannes Shellhorn, Brigitte Müntendorff, and Michael Beil). Her works have been performed by Klangforum Wien, Musikfabrik, Neue Vocalisten Stuttgart, MACM, and other ensembles.
Fedor Lednev (b. 1971, Minsk) is a conductor. He is a graduate of the Saint Petersburg State University school of choral conducting (1995) and symphonic conducting (1998). Since 1995, Lednev has taught at the Rimsky Korsakov Saint Petersburg Musical College. As a guest director, he has worked with the leading orchestral lights of Russia, including the E. F. Svetlanov State Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra, the Russian State Youth Symphonic Orchestra, the musicAeterna choir and orchestra, and many others. Since 2019, Lednev has been the conductor of musicAeterna.
Elena Gvritishvili (b. 1999, Saint Petersburg) is a singer. She is a graduate at the Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Musical college (conducting and choral department, class of Fedor Lednev and Anna Mei). Currently, she is a student in the vocal department of the Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory (class of Svetlana Gorenkova). Since 2020, she has been an artist of the musicAeterna choir. She performed Alexander Manotskova’s production of 52 on the stage of the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Theatre. Since September 2022, she has been an artist of the Youth Opera programme of the Bolshoi Theatre.
Daria Maminova (b. 1988)
“I don’t know whether the Earth is spinning or not” (2019)
For female voice and ensemble, based on a text by Velimir Khlebnikov
(First performance in Russia)
Gustav Mahler (1860–1911)
Fourth Symphony (1900)
Arrangement for a chamber orchestra by Erving Stein
I. Bedächtig. Nicht eilen
II. In gemächlicher Bewegung. Ohne Hast
III. Ruhevoll (Poco adagio)
IV. Sehr behaglich
Vladislav Pesin violin
Mikhail Andrushchenko violin
Lyubov Lazareva viola
Evgeny Rumyantsev cello
Maria Fedotova flute
Alexander Bykov oboe
Georgy Mansurov clarinet
Zhasulan Abdykalykov trumpet
Vitaly Ryadnov tuba
Konstantin Schenikov-Arkharov electric guitar
Nikolay Mazhara piano
Roman Sumbulov harmonium
Dmitry Klemenok drums
Carlos Navarro double bass